Emily M. DeArdo


Triduum Notes: Holy Saturday, Washcloths, and Sin

CatholicismEmily DeArdoComment

On Holy Saturday, I had a revelation in the bath tub.

Well, not actually in the tub. Getting out of it. 

My parents and I were going to the Vigil Mass that night, so I was washing my hair in preparation for that. I got out of the tub and began to comb my hair. 

I finished combing my hair, put it up into a wet, drippy bun, and noticed that the tub had some standing water in it. Why isn't it draining? 

I went over to look, and saw that one of my knitted washcloths had fallen from its perch, and was suctioned to the drain, stopping the water from flowing. 

And as I took the washcloth away and the water began to drain, I thought, That's what sin is. Sin is that washcloth

The washcloth was permeable--some water was getting through, but not enough to keep the water flowing freely. Sin is that washcloth. Venial sin doesn't stop us from having grace, or receiving grace--but it's hard for it to get through, the more sin is piled up. Mortal sin is like the drain being completely closed--nothing is getting through. 

Removing the washcloth allowed the tub to drain quickly. Going to confession opens the channel up again, and grace flows freely. 

OK, it's probably a bit of a labored metaphor. But that's what hit me, as I was drying myself off on Holy Saturday. 

We normally didn't go to the Vigil, but this year we decided to break tradition. 

The Vigil is in four parts, and it starts with the Service of Light, when the Paschal candle is carved and lit. For maximum impact, obviously, we start when it's dark. But also for liturgical reasons--we're anticipating Christ's resurrection, which happened before dawn on Easter Sunday. So the Mass can only begin after sunset. 

There are nine readings, telling us the history, which tell us the whole history of salvation, and the gorgeous Exsultet is sung: "O happy fault, o necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a redeemer!" 

This is also the night that the Church gains new members. At the Mass we attended, 18 people joined the Catholic Church, which is definitely something to celebrate! 

The Mass takes a few hours, so I didn't get to bed until after midnight. It was such a clear, beautiful night--so many constellations were visible. It was a great way to ring in the Easter season (which is 50 days of celebration, until Pentecost.)


The great week of singing, the Octave of Easter with its incessant "Alleluias," begins...and then we're off and rolling, into {fifty} days of Easter. --Kathleen Norris, The Cloister Walk